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Christmas in November Guide: Make the Most of Your Weekend!

Christmas in November

Have you heard of Christmas in November? Have you been? 

Christmas in November at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is a getaway like no other! It’s 4 days of Christmas – in November. Ha! Part holiday party, food conference, food festival and national park getaway – at Christmas in November you eat like royalty, are treated like royalty, learn holiday recipes from some of Canada’s best chefs and celebrate some of the best parts of the holidays like being with family and friends (new and old), the food, the wine, the decor, entertainment, and more! 

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the last three years as a Gastropost ambassador, sharing recipes and weekend recaps along with lots of social media posts live as my weekend unfolds. 

Christmas in November
Feeling so festive at Christmas in November.

It’s truly such a special event to participate in. 

This year (2016), there are 1,500 people registered over 10 days (3 packages to choose from – first weekend, mid-week, or final weekend).

While Christmas in November’s audience tends to be predominantly female (lots of mom/daughters/grandmothers, girlfriends or sister groups), I’ve seen more and more men attend each year that I’ve been there. In fact, this year there are 100 men attending including Mike – who if possible, loves Christmas in November even more than I do! 

Below, you can check out my tweets from this weekend, see my tips/guide to make the most of your Christmas in November experience, view more photos, and enter my giveaway to win a bunch of great cook books and other CIN swag! 

Twitter Recaps: 

Session Highlights: 

Here are just a few notes from the sessions I attended with Chef Vikram Vij, Mairlyn Smith, Mark McEwan, Emily Richards and Elizabeth Baird, Michael Olson and Jan Hansen!

  • There are 7 Signature Alberta Foods: beef, Saskatoon berries, canola, bison, honey, red fife wheat and root vegetables like beets, turnips and potatoes. Did you know: Alberta is the 5th largest producer of honey in the world
  • Masala is a blend of different spices, cooked with onions, ginger and garlic. Think of masalas like tomato sauce. It’s the key to Indian food
  • When making masalas, do it beforehand (like on a weekend) and in bigger batches, then pull out as needed when you’re cooking throughout the week
  • When cooking gnocchi, you really need to make sure your water is boiling. The bubbling of the water keeps the gnocchi from sticking to the bottom
  • Octopus heads are too tough to eat – it’s not enjoyable. Even the professionals have tried to make it work and it doesn’t
  • When cooking duck breast, be sure to score the skin – this keeps it from shrinking as much during cooking. You always want to use high heat when cooking duck
  • Loin chops are actually cheaper than ribs but for some reason North America is obsessed with ribs even though they have less meat – whereas loins have more meat
  • The best and simplest BBQ sauce you’ll ever make? Mix equal parts hot dog mustard, cheap white vinegar and brown sugar
  • If your spices are older than a year, they’ve lost their freshness and you should toss ‘em – otherwise your cooking won’t have the same punch to it
  • The smaller you dice your ingredients, the more flavour there is
  • Always measure at eye level
  • Use parchment paper to roll out any type of dough – less flour you use means the product will be less dry in the end and parchment paper ensures no sticking
  • When you’re creaming butter in baking, you want the butter to develop little horned tips – that’s how you know it’s ready 

Christmas in November Guide (2016) 

Christmas in November
Meal after meal, session after session – Christmas in November will keep you busy!
  • Be flexible with your schedule

When you register for Christmas in November, you’re registering for different chef/food/drink craft/decor sessions similar to a conference. On your arrival day, there’s a welcome party then your second and third days includes three session options plus breakfast, lunch, dinner per day. Your fourth/departure day also includes one session in the morning, plus brunch. The days can become quite jam-packed. 

Know that although you registered for one session, swapping sessions/attending others is totally OK too. You might find people rave about a session that you weren’t initially signed up for, it’s okay to mix and match.

It’s also okay not to schedule yourself into every session slot! You’re paying for the sessions but you’re also paying for a nice getaway – take some time to rest and relax in the super picturesque setting of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. 

Christmas in November
Sharman (Passion for Pork), Chef Jan Hansen (Hotel Arts Group in Calgary), and me!
  • Make friends with chefs, Fairmont JPL staff, your table mates 

Tom, James, Yannick – these three were just a few of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge staffers we made friends with. They’re so attentive and so friendly, it’s hard not to. It’s also hard not to make friends with the table mates you’re assigned to! And the chefs – some of these chefs are really famous – you might find it intimidating to approach them outside of their sessions but all of the chef/presenters I’ve met at Christmas in November have been so sweet, so welcoming, so open to chatting.

Make friends with the people you meet during your Christmas in November package, they’re such a big part of the memories you’ll make! 

Christmas in November
Ho ho ho … looking fancy with Santa!
  • Bring your best, Christmassiest attire 

Not sure what to wear to Christmas in November? Bring your best, Christmassiest (that’s a word) attire! The 2nd and 3rd day dinners are pretty swanky – you’d be more out of place if you weren’t dressed up. The 3rd day dinner (Gala Dinner) also features Christmas photos with Santa Claus so there’s another reason to look your best! On your arrival day/welcome party, you’re also encouraged to wear a Silly Christmas Sweater and some people really go all out! Have fun with it! 

Christmas in November
Anna and Michael Olson’s delicious gougeres!
  • Visit other sessions when yours is done to get more samples 

This is my “pro” Christmas in November tip. As if all the included meals you’re getting isn’t enough for food, I love it when a session wraps up and you head over to the other session rooms to see what samples they’ve got going on. Anna and Michael Olson’s Passion for Pork session usually has a ton of leftovers at the end of the session.

Other sessions share samples throughout – not necessarily all at the end, so ask other people what the sample situation is like in the sessions they attend to chart your own maximizing-food-intake-plan, lol. 

Christmas in November
Duo of Alberta Pork and Tenderloin at Christmas in November!
  • Try the vegetarian option to switch things up a bit 

Speaking of all that food – another “pro tip” is that you can request a vegetarian meal for your lunch or dinner just to have a lighter option. This is usually most handy for people who are working all 10 days at Christmas in November (including the chef/presenters) so to alleviate some of the ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling, and also heavy food feeling, substituting your meal for a vegetarian option can be nice.

All the lunch/dinner meals at Christmas in November are centered around Taste Alberta proteins like Alberta Chicken, Alberta Pork, Alberta Beef and Alberta Turkey (who are Christmas in November sponsors) and they’re incredible but let’s say you’re with a friend/spouse or bigger group – having a few order the vegetarian option is a nice way to ‘try it all’ :) 

Christmas in November
Hit the dance floor – then find an after party!
  • Keep the party going after dinner 

Christmas in November days start early and can end real late – again it’s up to you how much you want to jam pack your day but if you’re looking for some more fun after dinner (and the dance floor), you’ve got some options!

New this year you’ve got the Man Cabin to check out. After dinner, people headed to the Man Cabin to play foosball, air hockey, drink and mingle. Lots of people head out to the lodge lobby and bar to keep the party going. There’s no reason you can’t invite people back to your cabin for your own late night party (in fact, there’s a group of ladies who come every year that apparently host a pretty famed after-dinner party! Mike attended while I was sleeping this year, lol). 

So that’s just a few things I’d suggest to help you make the most of your CIN weekend. You can also check out my 2015 tips here (which I still think are valid – but I tried to share a few different ones this year). 

And now – for the giveaway!  

Christmas in November Giveaway
Win all of this stuff!

** GIVEAWAY **

Enter to win a Christmas in November swag bag featuring:

To enter:

  • Leave a comment on this post, telling me what you love most about Christmas and what aspect of Christmas in November you’re most interested in! 
    • Note: you must leave a comment on this post in order to qualify to win!
  • Follow me on Twitter (@lindork)
  • Follow Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Twitter (@fairmontJPL)
  • Follow me on Instagram (@lindork)
  • Follow Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Instagram (@fairmontJPL)
  • Like my Facebook Page: Lindork – Linda Hoang
  • Share this tweet:
    • Christmas in November #JasperCIN @fairmontJPL looks amazing! Hope I win @lindork’s #cookbook giveaway. http://bit.ly/2fxCFUg #yeg #yegfood
    • Note: You can tweet this daily for more entries!

Comments are moderated so if yours doesn’t appear right away, don’t worry. 

Please let me know which entries you’ve done in the comments too.

I’ll pick a random winner out of all entries after the contest closes on Friday, November 18, 2016. 

If you’re interested in seeing even more photos from my Christmas in November weekend, here’s a gallery!

Photos from Christmas in November

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Check out the Gastropost Christmas in November website here for more recipes and recaps from other Gastropost ambassadors too!

Linda

Follow lindork on Instagram

Add lindorkyeg on Snapchat!

Disclaimer: I will always provide my 100% honest opinion on this blog. My stay at Christmas in November was complimentary as I was a guest of Postmedia / acting as a Gastropost ambassador. 

Linda Hoang is an Edmonton blogger who writes about food, travel, lifestyle/events and pets. She's also a social media/digital specialist with a journalism background. Linda is in love with her city and loves exploring and promoting Edmonton and other places she visits with her husband Mike. Linda is also the founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival (and has 2 cats herself, along with 2 dogs).

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43 Comments

  • christine w

    I love spending time with my family and friends at Christmas time – everyone is always so happy. I think the different sessions at Christmas in November interest me the most – I love to learn from others so hearing tips would be great.

  • christine w

    I’ve followed you and JPL on twitter and liked your facebook page and completed the daily tweet.

  • Miranda

    Amazing, I love reading this recap every year haha, it’s a November tradition. I love the food, baking, festive lights and everyone just being in a good mood over the holidays. I’ve done all of the following:

    – Follow me on Twitter (@lindork)
    – Follow Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Twitter (@fairmontJPL)
    – Follow me on Instagram (@lindork)
    – Follow Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Instagram (@fairmontJPL)
    – Like my Facebook Page: Lindork – Linda Hoang

  • Lorena B

    I love everything about Christmas (except the snow and cold): food, family, celebrating, gift-giving, sharing time with important people in your life, oh and wine. That’s part of Christmas, right? I followed all the instructions…just any good stalker would do. Cheers!

  • Shannon

    I love how happy everyone is around Christmas! I think I’d be most excited about trying all the samples at Christmas in November.

  • Laura

    Baking baking baking!!! (All entry likes, follows and posts complete) 🎄

  • missbobloblaw

    I love all of the holiday baking! :) I have to say that all of the Christmas in November sessions look great. It’s nice that you can be really interactive with the chefs vs just sitting & watching.

  • missbobloblaw

    I follow you on twitter (@missbobloblaw)

  • missbobloblaw

    I follow @FairmontJPL on twitter (@missbobloblaw)

  • Debbie

    I would love to go to CIN sometime, I would be all about the food. I did all tasks for entries.

  • edmontonjb

    My favorite thing about Christmas is the family time and I would love to attend Christmas in November because of all the amazing food!

    ~Jonnie

  • edmontonjb

    I follow you on twitter as @edmontonjb

  • edmontonjb

    I follow fairmontjpl on twitter as @edmontonjb

  • edmontonjb

    I follow you on instagram as edmontonjb

  • edmontonjb

    I follow fairmontjpl on instagram as edmontonjb

  • edmontonjb

    I like you on facebook as Jonnie JB Hartling

  • kittypride

    I enjoy all the decorations and sparkle at Christmas, the baking is always a pleasure both mine and all the lovely friends who share their yummy creations.

  • Melissa

    Oh my goodness I would love to attend this! My fav part I’m sure would be the festive atmosphere that is sooo contagious and fun and all the food as I love food!;)

  • Carrie

    I love the big Christmas dinner with my family. We all wear the hats you get out of the Christmas crackers & everyone loves my Mom’s sausage stuffing. I would love to go to Christmas in November, for the food, courses, scenery & to get in the Christmas spirit. :)

  • Melissa

    I did all the entries (instagram and twitter names are @mithalou and facebook name is Melissa Louise) and my favorite part of Christmas is spending time with family and baking (sorry forgot to answer that above). Thanks for the great post and for the contest!

  • parkallenhomekitchen

    I did all the entries! Looks like you had a blast, Linda!

  • Lily

    I’ve been dying to go to CIN to try all that foooooood!
    All entries completed!

  • Bernie Stan Genberg

    A friend’s mother would make going to the Christmas in Nov an annual trek. She always came back bragging about how good a time she had. I always kept saying that I would have to try it. Unfortunately it still hasn’t happened. As for Christmas at that time of year I think is a great idea. It lets you celebrate when there is so much less going on. I find myself always exhausted by the time that the festivities roll up that I don’t know whether I’ve truly enjoyed myself because it is just suddenly over, lol. I think I will take it a lot slower this year! Regs, Bernice

  • Mary Koehn

    I’m looking forward to doing an activity Advent calendar with my kids this year (ie sleep under the Christmas tree, go see lights, read the Christmas story, bake cookies together, etc.) As for CIN, I will go one year, but for now I love hearing about the meals and the hands-on learning that you get to do!

    I’ve completed all the entries…thanks for the contest!

  • Janice McGregor

    Christmas is all about being with family, celebrating traditions and of course eating delicious foods! I’ve attended CIN and I loved the informative sessions, meeting Chef’s and other presenters, tasting new foods, crafting unique decorations all while enjoying the ambiance and beauty of Jasper Park Inn with other attendees. Well worth it to attend.
    I liked your FB page as I am not on Twitter or Instagram. Looks like you and Mike enjoyed every minute Linda!

  • Lillian T

    I love the excitement of getting ready for Christmas. I would love to attend CIN one of these days! I love seeing the chefs prepare their dishes in a smaller environment and the opportunity to chat with them more.

  • Lillian T

    Also did these:
    Follow me on Twitter (@lindork)
    Follow Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Twitter (@fairmontJPL)
    Follow me on Instagram (@lindork)
    Follow Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge on Instagram (@fairmontJPL)

  • Sky | Bringing Home The World

    I love the session highlights you’ve given here! My favourite part of Chrisymas is making homemade eggnog and just loading it up with rum, lol! I would love to attend Christmas in November to get amazing tips and techniques from some of Canada’s best chefs!

  • mtash

    My favorite part about Christmas is the food, I love cooking and hosting family and friends. Attending Christmas in November is on my bucket list for 2017 to check out Anna and Michael Olson’s sessions, or one of the Food network stars. Your post makes me want to go even more. I completed all the follows and likes.

  • Anne Marie Szucs

    I love taking a break on the second day for a dip in the outdoor heated pool. Fabulous!

  • Katrina M

    I love spending quality time with family and friends! That’s what Christmas is all about for me. The part that appeals to me most about CIN would be the baking tips. I’m pretty much the worlds worst baker!

  • Natalie

    I love the excitement of planning for Christmas! And I love baking!! I wanted to eat your Alberta pork and tenderloin!

    Done them allllllll!

  • Zoe LeParque

    For me, spending time with family and taking part in our annual traditions together are what I love most about Christmas. I would love the chance to attend Christmas in November – Jasper Park Lodge is such a beautiful setting and we always enjoy our stays there. We even spent part of our honeymoon at JPL! Along with the scenery, I think the food and having the opportunity to learn from some of Canada’s top chefs would be the biggest highlights for me. I’ve completed all of the entry tasks – keeping my fingers crossed!

  • Yolanda Chang

    The best part of Christmas is seeing old friends. My parents’ friends have kids about my age but as we’ve grown up, we’ve moved away. Christmas is the only time that we all make it back and see each other and it’s always great to catch up! Best part of CIN would be trying new foods! I follow your twitter account and liked your twitter page.

  • Sky I Bringing Home the World

    I love the session highlights you’ve given here! My favourite part of Chrisymas is making homemade eggnog and just loading it up with rum, lol! I would love to attend Christmas in November to get amazing tips and techniques from some of Canada’s best chefs! ( I tweet as @Sky_cooks)

  • Diane

    I love just hanging out with friends and family at Christmas! It is always a relaxing time and a good break from everything else going on.

    As for CIN I would love the classes especially any with Anna Olson, who I love! She was one of the first food network chefs I ever followed. I am a true fan of hers.

    Completed all other entries. ;)

  • Diane Yip

    I love doing as much baking as I can for Christmas. I enjoy the diversity of Christmas in November, from food tips, crafts, decor and mixology. What fun!

  • Christopher

    I want to meet all the celebrity chefs!

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  • The #dogfriendly 🐕🐶 @citymarket104 is my favourite #farmersmarket in Edmonton! Olive, Artie and I had such an awesome morning there with @theporkgirl, who helped me pick out some plants 🌱🌿 for the new garden @mikethyking built in our yard! Hope your Saturday is going great too. ☺️
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#yeg #yegfood #yegmarket #edmonton #exploreedmonton #marketdogs #saturyay #dogmom #dogsofig #yegdogs
  • What a bao-utiful day for baos! 🙊☺️☀️ Have a feeling I'll be visiting @kabaoyeg often this summer for my #bao fix since their new location is so close to work AND they're delicious! The shiitake kale vegetarian bao is SO good. @heyvanessaleigh & I ordered the whole menu today - pork, beef, chicken and mushrooms. Happy Friday!!! 🤗
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#yegfood #yeg #edmonton #edmontonfood #exploreedmonton #foodtruck #yegfoodtrucks #friyay #tgif
  • Front yard bloomin' 🌺🌸
Best time of the year. ☺️
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#yeg #exploreedmonton #crabapple #bloom #spring #summer #edmonton #bluesky #yegwx #yegflowers
  • In between  all the dog adventures at the @fairmontJPL's #DogDaysofMay, @mikethyking & I snuck in some quiet, human-only moments too. 🏔 Recharged and ready (for the next long weekend! 😅) Blog post recapping our doggy weekend up soon! In the meantime, check out my list of #dogfriendly patios & markets in Edmonton 🐕🐶 www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)
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#myjasper #lacbeauvert #fairmontJPL #fairmonthotels #yeg #explorealberta #scenic #views #rockymountains
  • It's dogs for days at #DogDaysofMay. 🐶
A dog lover's dream! 😌 Swipe to see some of the cuties I'm hanging out with this weekend at the @fairmontJPL. 🙏🏻🐕
#myjasper #fairmontjpl #dogsofinstagram #dogsofig #dogs #explorealberta #yeg #maylong #sundayfunday #dogsfordays
  • Happy #MayLongWeekend! We're with Olive and Artie at the beautiful @fairmontJPL for their #DogDaysofMay event!! It's a weekend full of doggie activities with 58 other dogs! 🐶 We could not have asked for (or gotten) better weather. ☀️🙏🏻 Watch my IG Stories or follow along on Twitter for the fun. ☺️🐶🐕 And I hope you have a great weekend too!
#MyJasper #FairmontHotel #FairmontJPL #explorealberta #maylong #longweekend #travelalberta #jaspernationalpark #yeg #dogsofinstagram #dogs
  • I love taking out of town friends to some of my favourite restaurants in the city. Tonight, we feasted at @rostizado_yeg with our friends Jack & Nicole from Medicine Hat + @yourbestfred & @catherine0626! 🙏🏻🙌🏻 Always get the platter. Always get the roasted cauliflower. Always get the churros. 🤤 Literally, everything we had was delicious but those are always my fav. 
#yeg #yegfood #exploreedmonton #edmonton #rostizado #platter #mexicanfood #food #foodporn
  • 🍕 giveaway! But first - can I just say I think we should put eggs on everything? 🍳🙏🏻 Had a great night catching up with @lisarattaiyeg tonight over @famosopizzeria's new pizzas - a Mattina prosciutto crisps, Parmesan crema & fried egg 🍕 + a Prawn Pesto 🍕 with roasted garlic & ricotta. 
Enter to win a $50 #FamosoPizzeria gift card to try their new dishes by tagging a friend in the comments below! 🍕 I'll pick a winner by Friday.
#yeg #yegfood #food #foodlover  #exploreedmonton #edmonton #pizza #famoso #pizzagram #friedegg
  • A lovely #MothersDay brunch at @deltaedmsouth today, where I tried ground cherries (that beautiful orange Harry Potter Snitch-looking fruit) for the first time! 🤗 Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there-- including all the fur moms. ✊🏻
#yeg #yegfood #exploreedmonton #edmonton #groundcherry #food #foodporn #foodlover #fruitcup #foodblog #mom #dessert #fruit
  • Gotta love a friend who doesn't even hesitate to share a gigantic noodle soup lunch with me! 😍🍜
@ginagariano & I had a tasty #budaejjigae & spicy seafood #jjambbong at @leehousefamily today. Totally satisfied my craving for spam, spice and soup. Though, could've had 3x more spam 🤤❤️ lol 
#yeg #yegchinatown #edmonton #exploreedmonton #korean #koreanfood #soup #noodles #lunchdates #noodleporn #food #foodie #foodblog
  • Celebrating great people (@kpanizzo) + great weather (☀️) with tuna poke + calamari on the patio @localjasperave. 🙌🏻 Happy birthday Kayla! 🎈
#yeg #yegfood #food #foodie #foodblogger #edmonton #exploreedmonton #edmontonfood #yegdt #tuna #poke #calamari #patio
  • These truffle grana padano fries with garlic aioli were like the cherry on top of an amazing menu tasting at @cactusclubcafe tonight! 😍 Our group tried port wine salmon, braised chicken tacos, a tabbouleh avocado bowl, short ribs & oxtail ravioli 🙏🏻 and we learned about the #CactusClub's impressive test kitchen and process for rolling out new dishes to its 30 locations across the country. Basically - it's not easy, they roll out slowly, and they don't rush anything. 👌🏻 Gotta love the consistency here. 
#yeg #yegfood #exploreedmonton #edmonton #food #foodie #foodporn #foodblogger #trufflefries

LINDORK